Sialkot is an industrial city of around a million people in north-east Pakistan and home to the two factories that make Etiko’s sneakers and sports balls.
One of the most powerful things about ethical clothing is that the Fairtrade premium you pay when buying clothes is invested back into helping the people who made your clothes.
But what is the Fairtrade premium? There is no objective way of knowing what the terms ‘ethical’ or ‘sustainable’ mean, yet they are commonly used to justify higher prices in the clothing industry. Fairtrade, however, is different because it is an independent certification process rather than a claim. Products (like Etiko) that carry the Fairtrade Certification stamp have been independently audited across their supply chain, which meets the Fairtrade standards. Factors include paying workers a living wage, complying with international standards for health and safety, empowering workers, providing for youth development programs like apprenticeships and more.
On top of that, companies that make Fairtrade Certified products can pay the Fairtrade Premium, which is an additional investment on top of the Fairtrade minimum price. Producers then democratically decide how the extra funds will be used; the only stipulation is that the money must be used to improve social, environmental or economic conditions in a community. One of the biggest projects to come out of this is a medical scheme to help workers and their families. This is a particularly big thing in a country without the ability to provide everyone with the health care they need. Last year alone, around 3,000 people received medical advice and treatment through the program. This included polio treatment for Hafsa Khalid, a seventeen-year-old high school student who was only able to walk with severe pain due to the effects of polio on her ankle development. The fairtrade premium fully funded her surgery and rehabilitation in Lahore, giving her a new chance to live a pain-free life and more fully participate in school and her community. There is no way that Hafsa’s family could have provided this care without this support.
Another example of the health care provided through the Fairtrade program is Rizwan Mehmood, son of Muhammad who works at Talon Sports. Rizwan was involved in an accident while riding his bike and sustained serious injuries, including multiple fractures to his lower jaw. The fairtrade program paid the full costs of his dental treatment, including replacing much of his jaw and enabling him to fully recover from the accident.
These are just two examples of how the small premium you pay when you buy ethical clothing goes a long way to fighting poverty and giving people like Hafsa and Khalid a better chance in life.
Please contact us if you have any questions about the fairtrade premium and we plan to feature many other examples of the transformative power of shopping ethically.